The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, has been credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Fifty years later, Earth Day arrives amid a global pandemic — and a worsening climate crisis.
As we witness the disproportionate effect of the coronavirus on low-income communities and communities of color, “it’s like we are watching a preview of the worst possible impacts of the climate crisis roll right before our eyes,” writes Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute, in last week’s New York Times.
When the people bearing the brunt of fossil fuel pollution are the same people most likely to be impacted by COVID-19, what is the role of Earth Day?
As Emily Atkin explained in the New Republic a few years back, “For those who live with environmental problems every day—mostly low-income, minority, and indigenous populations in America and around the world—every day is Earth Day.”
It is our wish that Earth Day 2020 evokes this year-round urgency for people across the world, especially as we cope with this current time of hardship. We have many enormous challenges ahead of us, globally and in Vermont, but together we can do something good.
Last week, VNRC was among eleven organizations who signed on to a letter to Vermont’s congressional delegation, suggesting policies and public investments for the next round of federal COVID-19 legislation. Our proposals would put Vermonters back to work rebuilding our communities in ways that would improve environmental quality, public health, and equity, while making them more resilient to climate change.
VNRC continues to advocate for policies that require the state to test for PFAS contamination in our public water supplies and lead in our children’s school water fountains, to ensure that no Vermont community is left more vulnerable than others to serious — and avoidable — health threats.
And we continue to mitigate the effects of climate change in Vermont by stewarding our forests, protecting our waters, and advocating for smart growth that promotes the economic health of our communities and helps Vermonters live more affordably. Learn more in our latest Vermont Environmental Report.
Thank you for your support of our work. Help us make Earth Day an everyday occurrence in Vermont.